Herald Nix has long been one of the most universally respected artists in British Columbia (Canada). Ten years before people started talking about 'alt country' and 'americana' and all the fashionable terms for certain flavours of folk music, Herald Nix was writing and playing music that drew on very deep roots. He has also played the kind of hard-ass gigs that most artists have only read about. As was written in Alberta back in 1982, "OK, so maybe every gig isn't in the choicest room in town. Maybe they did go into a bar now and then wondering if they'd have to duck beer bottles", which two paragraphs later turns into "you couldn't have gotten onto the dance floor with a shoe horn".
I remember him turning up at gigs during this city's punk heyday in a suit with a real cowboy hat and his guitar and getting loved by a roomful of tattoos and black leather who were waiting to slam dance. Elvis Costello never had the nerve to strip it down that far back then. Herald can stand up to the microphone alone with his guitar and draw you into a new world with just a few words or he can bring his band and fill the room with an electric guitar sound so big you wonder how they brought all that in the back of a van. Neil Young is the only other artist who has been able to do that consistently in the last decade or two.
We live in an era when most of what gets called 'country music' has situated itself in suburban shopping malls, nowhere near a genuine rural route. But Herald Nix continues to bring the country downtown and take some city out to the country. His music is right there where the country hits the asphalt. He is one of those very special voices that we'll take for granted until the day when some major record label sells him back to us. www.thefestival.bc.ca
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